15 Lesser Known Liquors of the Caribbean
The Caribbean is known for its exquisite beaches, turquoise waters, gorgeous weather and of course, its high-quality rum. Most vacationers return home with a tan and a box of their favorite island rum purchased at the duty-free shop!
While there is no denying that rum is king on the islands, if you are feeling a little adventurous or curious, here is a list of some lesser-known liquors that are popular with the locals. As they say after all, when in
Rome La Romana!
- Mamajuana (Dominican Republic – Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Samana, La Romana)
A mix of red wine, rum, honey, herbs and soaked tree bark, this sweet drink has many variations and can be enjoyed after dinner, as an aphrodisiac or even as a medicinal tincture!
- Balché (Cancun, Riviera Maya)
Known as the “drink of the gods,” Balché is made from the bark and roots of a tree by the same name, fermented honey and water. You are most likely able to try this by participating in a ritual at a Maya sweat lodge, called a temazcal.
- Xtabentún (Cancun, Riviera Maya)
Similar to Balché, Xtabentún is also made with fermented honey but includes anise seed, nectar from the xtabentún flowers and occasionally rum. This beverage can be served straight-up, on the rocks with lime or even be mixed with coffee!
- Nassau Royale (Grand Bahama Island)
You may already know of Nassau Royale, a rum-based fruity, vanilla liqueur by Bacardi, but did you know it is an extremely popular drink for local Bahamians? It’s also an important ingredient in the delicious Banana Royale dessert.
- Sorrel (Jamaica – Seasonal)
This seasonal drink is a mixture of sorrel plant petals, ginger, water, white rum and occasionally wine. Unlike the other drinks on this list, you’ll have to prepare it on your own if you want to bring it back, but you can easily pick up a packet of dried sorrel and a bottle of Wray & Nephew’s Overproof White Rum, which accounts for nearly 90% of all rum sales in Jamaica!
White Overproof (Jamaica)
Speaking of Overproof, this rum deserves a special mention in our list. Even though it is a top-selling rum worldwide, its importance in Jamaican culture lands it on this list. More than just a liquor, White Overproof is rubbed on the body to cure ailments, is used to christen newborns and is sprinkled on the foundations of new homes to ward off “duppies,” or evil spirits.
- Planchao (Cuba)
Another rum to make the list, this extremely popular liquor comes in individual cartons. Planchao is a rotgut rum and is certainly not for the connoisseur of fine liquor, but this “juice box for big kids” is more than enough for the people of Cuba!
- Coecoei (Aruba)
This is a red-colored liquor made from the kukwisa (agave) plant, rum and cane sugar. Coecoei was first made by the island’s natives centuries ago and remains very popular today.
- Cacique Guaro (Costa Rica)
Cacique Guaro is a liquor made from distilled sugar cane. It has a sweet yet neutral flavor that is very distinct thanks to the volcanic soil where the sugar cane grows. It can be enjoyed over ice, with juice or even with soda.
- Seco Herrerano (Panama)
Another liquor derived from sugar cane, Seco Herrerano is distilled three times and often imbibed in the same manner as vodka or rum, but can be mixed with anything from citrus juice to milk!
- Ponche Kuba Cream Liqueur (Antigua – Seasonal)
Ponche Kuba is not native to Antigua and is popular around the entire Caribbean, but around the holidays there is no island that enjoys this creamy beverage more than Antigua. Ponche Kuba is a creamy rum-based liqueur with hints of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Think of it as Caribbean eggnog!
- Guavaberry Liqueur (St. Maarten/St. Martin)
Guavaberry is a spicy and sweet liqueur produced from a small red and yellow fruit of the same name. It has a unique flavor that is bitter-sweet, woody, fruity and sharp. If you’ve ever been to St. Maarten/St. Martin, you’ll for certain have seen this for sale, but the real treat is if you are able to find a homemade batch while visiting!
- Guifiti (Honduras)
Guifiti is the result of Honduran roots and herbs mixed together with rum of any kind. Technically considered a bitter rather than a liquor, the beverage comes from the native Garifuna people of Honduras and when made with the typical 20+ herbs it also has curative properties for many different maladies.
Okay, okay, we know these last two aren’t found in the Caribbean, but we simply couldn’t leave them off the list!
Raicilla (Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit)
Raicilla is made from the agave plant like tequila and mezcal, but it predates Hispanic presence in the country. For a long time it was made without government approval and is therefore known as “Mexican Moonshine”, but it currently is available thanks to several legal distilleries.
- Damiana (Los Cabos)
This light herbal liqueur is very popular in Los Cabos, as the Damiana herb is native to Baja California. Legend has it the first Mexican margarita was made with damiana liqueur!
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